Mikel Arteta may be on the lookout for new strikers this summer, but Arsenal loanee Folarin Balogun is trying his best to ensure he is a part of the Spaniard’s plans next season.
The 20-year-old is currently on loan at Middlesbrough due to a lack of regular first-team minutes in north London, despite being promoted to the senior setup after signing a new and improved contract last year. After a slow start to life in the Championship, Balogun is now starting to find some confidence after bagging three goals in his last four league appearances, including one against Peterborough on Saturday. The ball found the England U21 international on the edge of the six-yard box and he made no mistake as he confidently beat the keeper on the half volley.
He continued his good form while with The Three Lions’ U21 side last week, scoring in a 4-1 win over Andorra before netting twice in a 3-0 victory over Albania. As well as finding his old lethal edge in front of goal in recent weeks, Balogun’s overall performances for Boro have been promising, often successfully taking on opposition players and making dangerous runs to exploit goalscoring opportunities.
Mikel Arteta was asked about the player’s progress earlier this week and while he agreed that the benefits of the loan are starting to appear, he also admitted a temporary switch should have happened sooner than January. “I think Flo is doing what he needed to do, and probably we should have done it a little bit earlier,” he said.
“It’s always a bit difficult to time when is the best moment to do that. But he’s having the right exposure, he’s playing in a different formation and sometimes a different role under a manager and a club with huge history.”
The Arsenal boss then went on to reiterate how important it was for the youngster to gain more experience at a higher level, highlighting the move to Middlesbrough is finally providing him with a suitable platform to progress. “You can see how he is developing. This is going to give us more detail about what is the next best move for him to keep developing, because he has developed and we want him to be part of our future.
“He needed a pathway, he needs that exposure. He needs to go through good and difficult moments, and he needs to be able to adapt and find himself in the dressing room, and develop the importance that is required to play at this level. I think he is doing all of that really well.”